Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 European Tour: Saudi International Preview

2020 European Tour: Saudi International Preview

Damien Kayat previews the European Tour Saudi International which takes place at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The European Tour 2020 | Saudi International
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
Thursday 30 January 2020 - Sunday 02 February  2020

It was really quite incredible how everything played out in the world of golf last Sunday. Lucas Herbert won a sensational playoff, claiming the Dubai Desert Classic on his native Australia Day. Not to be outdone, Mark Leishmann decided to further enhance Australian pride with a brilliant victory at Torrey Pines. This will be the 2nd staging of the controversial Saudi International. Last year’s event was right in the midst of the Jamal Khashoggi saga. This year the animosity doesn’t seem quite so intense, despite some recent tension in the region. I think it would be refreshing if more golfers stood up and took a political stance, but let’s rather focus on the golf this week.  

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club was designed by Dave Simpson of European Golf Design. It only opened as recently as 2017 and is composed of a Paspalum variety called Dynasty. I feel like I have written fairly repetitive course previews of late. This is a typical coastal, desert track, though the wind isn’t expected to be too intense this year. But you can look towards desert and links specialists to dominate the leader-board. Last year’s stats seem to suggest that driving distance will be crucial on this par 70 layout. There are a number of reachable par 4’s that may ultimately separate the field.

Defending Champion Dustin Johnson returns to action this week after his outing yielded a 7th place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Texan gunslinger is perfectly suited to the vagaries of Royal Greens, though he may be a tad rusty this week. Brooks Koepka will be relieved that Rory stuttered on Sunday at Torrey Pines, leaving his World Number One ranking safe for now. Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson are other notable American names present. Elsewhere the likes of Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry should attract significant attention from the galleries.  

Inaugural Results
1st: Dustin Johnson (-19)
2nd: Haotong Li (-17)
3rd: Tom Lewis (-16)
4th: Min Woo Lee (-15)
5th: Alex Levy (-14)

Betting Favourites (To Win): 
Dustin Johnson (15/2)
Brooks Koepka (10/1)
Patrick Reed (12/1)
Sergio Garcia (20/1)

Victor Perez (20/1)

Value Bets

Haotong Li
To Win (50/1), To Place (11/1)
This one just screams value to me. The ultra-talented Li had a really schizophrenic 2019 campaign. One of the highlights was his awesome performance here last here. He pushed DJ to the wire, holing out on numerous occasions from improbable positions. He finished runner-up in his last event of 2019: the China Tour Championship. He missed the cut last week, but that only makes his price more attractive. Furthermore, Li’s last victory came at the 2018 Dubai Desert Classic, a week after he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi. Hao Tong Li is a brilliant ball-striker who just needs one round to turn his form around

Ryan Fox
To Win (90/1), To Place (19/1)
Ryan Fox just looks like a wonderful off-Broadway choice this week. The New Zealander won last year’s PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit. He made an excellent impression on debut here, finishing 6th. Fox is one of the biggest hitters on tour, finishing 2nd behind Min Woo Lee in the driving distance stats. That makes him an ideal candidate this week, with an array of gettable par 4’s. Fox has often played his best golf on links courses, further underlining his potential this week. He was runner-up in the 2018 Irish Open and 4th in the same event a year prior. He also finished 4th at the 2017 Scottish Open. This is a course that should forgive his more errant driving and I like him in the place markets. 

The Man to Beat

Tom Lewis
To Win (28/1), To Place (6/1)
Tom Lewis has actually emerged as one of the more interesting prospects in world golf. He won the Korn Ferry Tour Championships, in the process securing his US PGA tour-card for this season. Last week he narrowly missed out on making a playoff in Dubai. As a consequence he entered the top 50 in the world golf rankings, putting him on course to Masters and WGC qualification. Lewis also returns to a course he played so well last year. He finished 3rd in the inaugural staging of this event. He clearly has a penchant for desert golf and looks terrific at 28/1.     

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